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Israeli defence minister heads to Colombia, US (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 04/15/12) Source: http://news.yahoo.com/israeli-defence-minister-heads-colombia-us-091418672.html;_ylt=AmfeWxkepUtDroxmysAM_NS1qHQA;_ylu=X3oDMTQ5YmRlbWx1BG1pdANUb3BTdG9yeSBXb3JsZFNGIE1pZGRsZUVhc3RTU0YEcGtnAzJjYzlhMjE1LWE2OTgtMzJiZi04MTEyLWM4NGYwZjM3NWUxYwRwb3MDMTYEc2VjA3Rv
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Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday left for a five-day working visit to Colombia and the United States where he was to hold talks with top officials, his office said.
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His first stop will be in Bogota to meet Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, his counterpart Juan Carlos Pinzon and Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, Barak´s office said.
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He will also meet Colombia´s military chief-of-staff and other senior administration officials, the statement said, without indicating what would be discussed.
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Barak will then travel to Washington for talks with US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday, after which he would return immediately to Israel.
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Last October, Colombia´s Holguin paid a surprise visit to the region to try to encourage Israel and the Palestinians to return to direct talks, which broke down just weeks after they began in September 2010.
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Holguin, who met both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, was sent to the region by Santos, whose efforts at mediation began earlier that month during a visit by the Palestinian leader.
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Abbas had been hoping to secure Colombian backing for a Palestinian bid to secure full state membership at the United Nations.
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But Colombia, which is one of the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, opposes the bid, backing the position of both Israel and the United States which say a Palestinian state can emerge only through bilateral negotiations and not through a UN vote. (Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse. 04/15/12)
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